Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Tropical Moment

 I can honestly say that there is no vacation I covet more than a tropical one. Warm sun, sparkling blue waters, sandy beaches, and exotic food. All the brilliant colors and foods, and the warmth just calls to me. And I tell you what, with all the crazy going on around here (a new baby on the way in October, and quite the variety of house guests and weekend trips over the past few months), we could use a vacation! Someday, maybe. But, until then, I like to make these Fish Tacos and Fried Plantains, with their hints of lime and coconut, and just pretend that I'm on a tropical island somewhere, sipping Brazilian Lemonade in a frosted glass with a tiny umbrella.

 Heart Health:

Cabbage- this sweet little gem (the best cabbage is always sweet!) is full of insoluble fiber, beta-carotene, folate, and vitamin C. It also contains dithiolethiones, compounds which may guard against carcinogenic agents and increase glutathione, an antioxidant. All of these things help in the fight against heart disease!
Garlic- Garlic has anticlotting properties, possibly due to the ajoenes present. Also, the sulfur phytochemicals may help protect against heart disease.

Cumin - this tasty spice is thought to be cardio protective and have antioxidant properties.
Corn- Corn often gets a bad rap as being without significant nutrients, but actually is a great source of complex carbs, folate, and soluble fiber, which may help protect against heart disease.

Olive Oil- This healthy oil contains disease-fighting phytochemicals, vitamin E, and monounsaturated fat. All these help keep arteries clear of cholesterol. The monousaturated fat may also help raise good cholesterol, and a diet rich in this fat may help lower your chance of heart disease.
Coconut oil- Although a saturated fat, it is composed mostly of medium chain fatty acids, which actually increase good cholesterol and help protect the heart. In some studies, coconut oil was also found to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as prevent the oxidation of cholesterol (which leads to atherosclerosis- the depositing of fats on the artery wall) (

Citrus (lime)- Citrus fruits are most well known for bing chock full of vitamin C, which may help heart disease by getting rid of harmful free radicals, strengthening blood vessels, and regulating blood pressure. But they also contain hesperidin for lowering cholesterol, nobiletin for anti-inflammatory actions, and folate to help lower the risk of heart disease.

Honey is often considered a super food, and is nutrient dense and full of enzymes- a great choice for sweetener whenever possible. Local, raw honey has even been suggested to help with allergies. 
Source: Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You,  The Reader's Digest Association

Honey Lime Cabbage

1/2 head of a small cabbage, chopped
2 Tbs. white vinegar
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt. 

Whisk all the sauce ingredients together, than stir in the cabbage. Allow to marinate for several hours ahead of time, so that the cabbage has a bit of time to get tender.

Fish Marinade

1/3-1/2 cup Coconut milk
2 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 cloves minced garlic 
4-5 fillets of Tilapia
Olive or coconut oil

Mix ingredients for marinade, then add to fish and marinate for at least an hour, or more, in the fridge. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Add fish fillets and fry until golden on each side and cooked (opaque white) through. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then flake into bite size chunks. 


1/2 cup crema mexicana (this is totally optional, as it's basically just thick cream. It makes the sauce creamier and more mild, but you can easily use all sour cream or milk or cream in place of it.)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 minced clove garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. lime juice
Whisk together until smooth. 

Corn Salsa

2 cups cooked corn
2 Tbs. softened butter
2-3 Tbs. Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
1/2 cup chopped onions (optional)
Cilantro to taste (optional)
I happen to hate raw onions AND cilantro, so I leave those out, but my husband likes them, so often I will have them on the side. 

Mix the tabasco sauce with the softened butter, than stir into the cooked corn, onions, and cilantro.

Note: an alternative to tabasco sauce that I sometimes use would be the same spices used in the crema. 


Corn tortillas
Olive oil
Cooked fish
Corn Salsa
Honey Lime Cabbage

Fry tortillas lightly in olive oil, until golden but still flexible. Drain and cool on paper towels. Build tacos with fish, cabbage, corn, and crema. Or, simply toss all ingredients in a bowl and rip off bites of tortilla as you go. Enjoy!

Fried Plaintains with Coconut Cream

1 can of full fat coconut milk, refrigerated at least over night
Sugar to taste
2 ripe plantains
2 Tbs. butter or coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 Tbs. brown sugar

Take the can of coconut milk form the fridge and remove the lid. There will be a separation of the coconut cream/fat and the milk/water. Scoop the hardened coconut cream into your mixer and whisk on high speed until it resembles whipped cream. (Hint: if you are making fish tacos as well, use the leftover milk for the marinade.) You can use the liquid as well, but your cream will not be as firm. Once it's whipped to your desired consistency, sprinkle in sugar to taste. Scoop into a bowl and refrigerate until needed. 
Right before serving, slice the plantains into coins and melt the butter in a hot skillet. Add the plantains and cook on one side until golden. Flip them over, then sprinkle the golden side with cinnamon and brown sugar, and allow the brown sugar to melt. When the bottom is golden, remove from the skillet. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped coconut cream.

Brazilian Lemonade
We tried this out a few days ago, and simply loved it! I love finding fun drink recipes to make a meal feel just a little bit more festive. I used this recipe here:

and added a can of coconut milk and a small carton of raspberries. Plus, honestly, a bit more sugar and water, as it was pretty tart and strong for me. Just mix it to taste.